JOHANNESBURG -- Anton Rupert, a South African industrialist and philanthropist who opposed apartheid's inhumanities and funded environmental and educational projects, has died at age 89, a family spokesman said yesterday.
Mr. Rupert died in his sleep at his home at Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, on Wednesday night, family spokesman Hans Knoetze told the South African Press Association.
Mr. Rupert rose from humble beginnings to become one of South Africa's most successful industrialists, playing a leading role in the country's mining, tobacco, banking, media, food, beverage, and healthcare industries.
His family is on the Forbes list of the world's 500 wealthiest families, with assets estimated at $1.7 billion.
He founded the luxury goods firm
Tributes poured in yesterday from across the political spectrum. President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa praised Mr. Rupert as a key figure in the development of South Africa's industrial and commercial sectors.
Antiapartheid icon Nelson Mandela called Mr. Rupert a friend who ''lived a full life in which he served his country, the world, and humanity."
South Africa's last white president, F. W. de Klerk, described Rupert as a ''visionary innovator" and ''great South African."